As a bunny parent, you need to know the basic facts about spaying or neutering your pet bunny. We’ll try to go over the most important information including all the benefits of these two procedures.
First off, let’s explain the terms. Spaying is the procedure performed on female rabbits (also called does) to remove the reproductive organs. Your female bunny will then receive several sets of sutures to close her back up safely. Neutering is performed on male rabbits (also called bucks) to remove the testes.
Benefits of rabbit neutering and bunny spaying
There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your pet bunny. Firstly, the rabbits which undergo these two useful procedures live a longer, and a healthier life because spaying and neutering greatly reduce the risk of cancer and urinary tract infections.
In addition, a rabbit that is spayed or neutered will be calmer and easier to handle and manage in general. Their destructive habits will also decrease a little but they will still be equally active and joyful in their cozy bunny home.
Spayed or neutered bunnies tend to be easier to litter-train and have less of an urge to spray.
As for their skittish, prey-like nature which results in defensive and sometimes aggressive behavior, spayed and neutered pet rabbits are easier to bond with because of their calmer demeanor after the procedures.
Finally, spayed and neutered bunny couple will not end up with a litter of unwanted baby buns. While baby bunnies are adorable, the majority of bunny shelters are consistently full because of the fact that pet parents don’t neuter and spay their bunnies.
When to spay a rabbit?
Female rabbits are generally old enough to be spayed when they are between four and six months old. This is the age when they reach sexual maturity. When rabbits have reached middle age (5-6 years old) they can be considered too old to be spayed. We don’t recommend spaying female bunnies that are too young or too old because they are at higher risk of experiencing complications from surgery.
When is the right time for bunny neutering?
Male rabbits between three and five months old, they are old enough to be neutered. Basically, male bunnies can be neutered as soon as their testicles have descended.
Rabbit spaying and neutering procedures
Let’s start with spaying. As we said, spaying is the procedure performed on female rabbits to remove their reproductive organs. This procedure takes place through the abdomen.
First, blood vessels which lead to the reproductive tract are tied and the reproductive tract is then removed. The rabbit then receives a few sets of sutures to close her back up.
In order to perform the procedure of neutering (removing the male rabbits’ testes), the vet will first make an incision in the scrotum and then remove the testicles through the opening.
A male rabbit can still have semen stored in his body for up to three weeks after the surgery. For this reason, a recently neutered male should be kept away from unaltered female rabbits during this period.
In order to provide a safe process of spaying or neutering your pet bunny, you need to find an experienced vet. When looking for an experienced veterinarian, don’t forget to ask them if they have done these two surgeries on rabbits before.
If you have adopted your rabbit from a shelter or rescue, that rabbit may already be spayed or neutered, so make sure to ask if that was the case. If your bunny hasn’t been altered, a local rabbit shelter is a good place to get recommendations of an experienced rabbit vet in your area.
Once you have found a qualified vet, ask them about what you need to do to prepare your bunny for surgery and how to provide care after the surgery. Also, ask your veterinarian to explain the procedure thoroughly as it will surely ease your own anxieties about what will happen to your bunny during the procedure.
After the procedure, make sure to monitor your rabbit for any changes in behavior, eating, pulling at stitches or signs of possible infection. A neutered rabbit will generally recover very soon.
Male rabbits are usually bolder and quite territorial. In addition, they frequently spray urine, and aggression is a common problem with bucks. After the neutering procedure, you’ll be happy to see your male rabbit more relaxed, less territorial and less aggressive.
Your bunny will enjoy life without constantly looking for a mate and will be less aggressive when you need to invade their home for feeding and cleaning purposes. Another benefit of spaying or neutering your pet bunny is that rabbits can live with a spayed female or even another neutered male as long as you slowly and carefully introduce them to each other.
Having female rabbits spayed is equally beneficial for both the doe and you as her pet parent. Most female rabbits get territorial and aggressive when they become sexually mature, which is when they are four to six months old.
They often have repeated false pregnancies and may growl at you, bite and scratch you or your kids as well as other rabbits as a result. Keeping two females which have not been spayed together tends to make things worse even if they are siblings.
Spaying or neutering your pet bunny reduces and sometimes even completely eliminates all these behavioral problems. Spayed females are also likely to live longer lives than does which haven’t been spayed.
In fact, up to 80% of unaltered female rabbits develop uterine cancer by the age of 5. Also, does who were not spayed when they were young and in good health may have to undergo the operation if an emergency occurs in their later life, which poses a health risk.
Are spaying or neutering your pet bunny procedures safe?
In the past, rabbits gained a reputation for being difficult to receive anesthesia safely. But the risks of rabbit anesthesia going wrong have decreased significantly in recent years.
In the hands of experienced vets using modern techniques, paying and neutering surgeries on healthy rabbits have become almost as safe as in cats. It is important to understand that lowered risks do not mean that there are no risks at all.
Surgery on any animal can have unexpected complications. Occasionally a much-loved rabbit may even die while being neutered. These cases are rare and for most rabbits, the benefits of neutering far outweigh the very small risk involved.
Older rabbits and those with medical problems are more difficult to neuter safely. You should always discuss the risks and benefits with an experienced vet in order to choose the best option for your pet.
What to do before the surgery
The first thing you should do is take your bunny to the vet well before the operation date to discuss the procedure. Make sure your rabbit gets a preliminary medical check and ask if any pre-operative blood tests are needed.
Your pet’s digestive system needs to be working perfectly, so don't change the diet for a week or so before surgery. Rabbits can't vomit, so don't worry about withholding food and water before the surgery. Your rabbit should be served rabbit food and water right up until the operation and as soon as they wake up.
What to do after the surgery
Your bunny should be awake, alert and wanting to eat when you collect it after the surgery.
Things to check while your rabbit is still at the clinic:
- Has the rabbit been given postoperative pain relief?
- Are there any special instructions for wound care?
- Who should you contact if there are any problems?
- Do you need to schedule a check-up appointment?
- How long should your bunny be on cage rest?
When you get your bunny home:
Put it in a previously disinfected cage indoors with comfortable bedding and a clean litter tray or newspapers. Most vets use special suture techniques to prevent the rabbit chewing at stitches, but you should still check the stitches every day.
Male rabbits usually recover from their operation very quickly and come home looking for food, but female bunnies may be quiet for a day or so.
The most important thing is to get your rabbit to eat. This is not usually a problem if the rabbit has been given enough pain relief, but be prepared to tempt the rabbit with nibbles of their favorite bunny food, fruits and veggies if they lack normal appetite.
Freshly picked grass or herbs often work. If your rabbit still hasn't eaten the morning after you bring them home, call the vet for advice.
If you have two bunnies of the same sex living together, it’s recommended to have them neutered at the same time and keep them together after the surgery.
If you have a male and a female, you need to be a little more careful. Males remain fertile for 2-3 weeks after neutering and females must be kept away from males for about 10 days after being spayed.
How much does it cost to neuter a rabbit and how much does it cost to spay a rabbit?
The prices of spay/neuter surgery vary significantly in different areas of the USA. We are right to presume that the differences are notable in other countries, as well.
In the US, the costs are the lowest in spay/neuter clinics where you can expect to pay $50-80. However, vet clinics in major metropolitan areas, where rents and labor costs are very high, usually charge several hundred dollars for spaying and neutering surgeries. According to our research, the average around the country is $200-$300.
It’s a good idea to contact your local rabbit rescue shelter and ask for the list of spay/neuter providers which are recommended and often visited by other rabbit owners.
In any case, the benefits of spaying or neutering your fluffy companion outweigh the costs significantly so our final recommendation is that you opt for these procedures in due time for your pet’s sake and yours, as well.